Tuesday, May 18

Help Hong Kong Residents Flee Before It’s Too Late, Runaway Democracy Figure Urges | Hong Kong


Time is running out to help Hong Kong residents before the long-awaited introduction of powers that prohibit people from leaving as China tightens its grip on the city, a pro-democracy politician warned after fleeing to the UK and later to Australia.

Former lawmaker Ted Hui arrived in Australia on Tuesday, three months after he fled to the UK while on bail in Hong Kong. Speaking from the quarantine, Hui told The Guardian that he had decided to move to expand the pro-democracy movement in exile and pressure Canberra to increase support from Hong Kong, including formal “lifeboat” plans to help dissidents and civilians. to flee.

The Hong Kong government recently released a bill to give the immigration department “unlimited powers” to prevent people from leaving. With no remaining opposition in the Hong Kong legislature, the amendment is likely to pass and go into effect on August 1.

“That’s a deadline for different nations to consider whether they are going to provide lifeboat plans,” Hui said. “I personally believe that many dissidents, and even civilians who have expressed their disagreement, could be banned from leaving Hong Kong.”

Hui fled Hong Kong in December while on bail on charges related to protests. He said the charges were unfair, often based on false police testimony or, for those related to contempt of the legislature, simply “ridiculous.” Hui has also been charged with “foreign collusion” under the national security law.

Hui said: “There is nothing wrong with telling the truth and letting the world see what is happening in Hong Kong, the human rights violations,” he said. “They are putting dissidents in jail. That’s why we have to keep talking ”.

With the blessing of the Hong Kong government, Beijing is increasing its control over the city, having already introduced a radical and draconian national security law and powers to disqualify “unpatriotic” legislators and public servants. On Thursday, Beijing is expected to approve powers to screen political candidates before the elections. Most opposition figures are in jail, on trial or in exile.

Hui said that offering political asylum was “delicate” and a narrow path, so he was urging foreign governments to expand existing visa programs and residency eligibility as the UK has done. He said Australia’s expanded visa pathways were still limited and many young people did not have the resources to leave Hong Kong, especially amid unprecedented global border closures.

The situation was “quite dangerous,” Hui said. “For those who need to leave and escape the terror of the CCP [Chinese Communist party]It seems that the only option is the UK. Therefore, there are many limited exile opportunities. “

Hui’s arrival in Australia is a sign of the increasingly coordinated international network of Hong Kongers in exile. He told The Guardian that he felt “most needy” in Australia, where there was not such a significant presence. “Hong Kongers already have Nathan Law and other prominent exiles in Europe doing advocacy work, and at the same time we have counterparts in North America,” he said.

Hui said he would be in Australia for a year on his existing visa before deciding whether to seek an extension. Applying for political asylum was “a last option” but a possibility, he said.

During that time, he intended to push for sanctions against Hong Kong and Beijing officials, a reduction in Australia’s dependence on trade with China, and a Magnitsky-style act to hold foreign government officials accountable for rights abuses. humans. However, he said, his priority was to convince the Australian government to provide Hong Kong people with “the peace of mind that the British have provided.”

The Guardian asked the Australian government for comment, which had previously raised concerns about the crackdown in Hong Kong.

Kimberley Kitching, an opposition lawmaker and chair of the Australian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade References, called on the government to “consider welcoming Hong Kong people who did nothing but resist to protect the rules and regulations and democratic institutions promised as part of the ‘one country, two systems deal’ ”.

“Together with the international community, it would also be worth exploring a multilateral solution, whereby democratic countries create an agreement on the right of residence for those who wish to leave Hong Kong,” Kitching said.

Australia is operating strict border closures, and significant help in granting Hui and his family visa waivers for “compelling and compassionate reasons” and the provision of rare seats on a repatriation flight is likely to upset the feathers in Beijing amid of the already low relations between Australia and China. .

When asked to comment, the Chinese embassy in Canberra pointed out to The Guardian statements made by Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin in Beijing last week.

“The Chinese side urges the Australian side to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs in any way,” Wang told reporters on Monday last week. “Otherwise, Sino-Australian relations will only suffer further damage.”


www.theguardian.com

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